• Opinion-lead

    Is it ok for ads to embrace sentimentality at Christmas time?

Opinion: Yes Christmas ads are cheesy, but that's the point

Posted by Liv Siddall,

This week Liv Siddall looks at whether, with increased scrutiny on brands’ Christmas adverts, we should toss aside our cynicism for the festive season. As ever we’d welcome your comments below as well.

You may remember at school rushing into the classroom to talk about the fact that the Coca-Cola Christmas ad had aired the night before, a spot that has remained true to its format since anyone can remember and continues to delight as people believe it marks “the start of the festive season”. No one’s really sure why the lorries are arriving into town but we tend to accept it as the starting pistol for the season of overconsumption.

Tis annual advert has gotten away with it since the 1960s with no real backlash, compared to the extraordinary amount of hubbub over the reams of Christmas ads that appear now to the baying crowd of cynical Twitter users. My first guess would be that the Coca-Cola advert, while still desperately reminding you to drink Coca-Cola, isn’t trying wholeheartedly to make you start sobbing and feeling guilty for not loving your family enough. This year we have already been treated to some crackers, namingly the much-anticipated John Lewis Christmas ad — the third in a series of adverts designed specifically to pull on your cynical, urban heartstrings. 

Unlike the Coca-Cola advert, this story of a snowman (spoiler alert) trekking across what looks like Slough to get his snow wife/mistress some gloves doesn’t really make you think of Christmas – it just reminds you that you should probably voice your opinion online. The thing that it does have in common with the Coca-Cola advert is that it’s phenomenally cheesy.

But isn’t that what it’s all about? After a year of watching sterile, testosterone-fuelled car adverts in the cinema, and face-clawingly loud adverts for bleach, isn’t it actually quite nice to just sit back and be fed the TV equivalent of a Boxing Day cheese-board?

We’re all so used to being poised to criticise big-budget adverts that perhaps we’re forgetting that there’s a reason we watch Love Actually at Christmas and not in July and why we say “Merry Christmas!” to people we generally don’t like at this time of year — it’s sort of fun to be cheesy. These adverts, however unrealistic, are merely bringing that point home. 

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Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She also runs our London listings site This At There, and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.